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The Wrong Way to Value Stock for Purposes of Equitable Distribution

In a dissolution of marriage action, the court is required to identify all the marital assets and to establish the value for those marital assets.

Stock is just one example of what might be considered a marital asset in a divorce case.  Stocks which are traded routinely on an exchange have a value that is easily determined.  What do you do however when you are dealing with stock in a privately held company, or stocks commonly referred to as penny stocks?  How do you go to go about valuing these types of stocks?

Bring your valuation experts to court, and present their full testimony.  For certain, a trial judge should not make a finding of value until all the evidence has been presented to the court regarding valuation.  Additionally, if both parties to the proceeding offer evidence of differing valuations, it is not appropriate for a court to take an average of the two conflicting valuations in order to assign a value to the stock.

This is precisely what the trial court did in the case of Tucker v. Tucker, 171 So3rd 158 (Florida 4th DCA 2015).  On appeal, the trial court was reversed.  The appellate court stated that “a trial court’s property valuation must be supported by competent, substantial evidence.”  The court referenced, in support of this principle, the case of Garcia v. Garcia, 25 So3rd 687 (Florida 4th DCA 2010).

When a court takes an average of two different valuations, the stock valuation was not not supported by competent, substantial evidence.

Florida law clearly prohibits the valuation of marital assets by splitting the difference between two  different valuations.

If you have a question regarding the valuation of your assets, you are entitled to a full and complete hearing to present all of the evidence that you have associated with the valuation of the particular asset.  The same holds true for the other party.  Anything short of a full evidentiary hearing may very well likely lead to a reversal on appeal.

Further information regarding valuation issues of marital assets can be obtained by calling experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton at 954-295-9222